The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill would introduce new requirements for workers and trade unions when engaging in strike action. If they do not comply with those regulations, trade unions would face losing legal protections against being sued. Similarly, employees would lose protections against unfair dismissal for taking part in industrial action. 

The areas intended to be covered by regulations made under the bill’s provisions are: 

  • health services
  • fire and rescue services
  • education services
  • transport services
  • decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel
  • border security

These match the definition of “important public services” introduced by the Trade Unions Act 2016 (with some additions). The relevant regulations would be made under the affirmative procedure (thus approved by both Houses of Parliament). The bill also contains a Henry VIII power to amend other primary legislation for related purposes.

The bill follows a wave of ongoing strike action in many areas of the public sector, which has seen disputes on a scale not seen for many years. 

Its provisions have come in for significant criticism from opposition parties, who have described the bill as an attack on the right to assembly and discrimination protections—as a result of the proposed changes to the legal framework on unfair dismissal—and thus also in contravention of the UK’s obligations under international law.

The government has rejected these assertions, suggesting the bill strikes a balance between protecting the right of workers to strike and ensuring that essential public services can continue to be delivered during industrial action. 

This briefing examines these issues ahead of the bill’s second reading in the House of Lords on 21 February 2023.

Related posts

  • International Women’s Day 2024: Economic inclusion of women

    Economic disparities persist between men and women globally, with women generally facing lower pay, higher levels of informal employment, and more unpaid care work than men. Internationally, the UK government has made commitments to promote gender equality and economic inclusion, but concerns have been raised about the level of aid funding. In the UK, the government has expanded childcare places for working parents and supported private members’ bills to make changes to employment law.

    International Women’s Day 2024: Economic inclusion of women